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Mage Chapter 2

by khushi17bansal


It is power that is coveted, it is knowledge that is hoarded, it is weapons that are honed and it is people that must be beaten.

Uncommon terms:

Chaitra - It is the first month as per the Hindu calendar.

mamu - the hindi term for mother's brother.

Chapter 2

The soft golden light glinted of the massive coloured glass chandelier that hung from the ceiling, the aroma of the scented candles wafted through the room. The Royal Palace was beautiful, made mostly of gorgeous carved wood, inlaid with ivory, gold and precious stones, adorned by coloured glass chandeliers and lit with a delicate golden firelight, it was a sight to behold. The biggest building in the kingdom, it was huge and could fit almost half of the kingdom if it was needed.

Most of the palace remained unused because there was a time in the past when all the High Houses lived in the place itself with the king, it was only a decade or two ago, when a ruler decided to send them away to live in their domains, to reduce the threat to his throne. The High Houses now only came when there was a serious issue, like war or the King's death. The reigns of six rulers have passed since the decision was made, King Kedar is the seventh ruler to continue the decision to keep the High Houses out.

Now a war was here, and for the first time in years, all the High House Heads were officially in one room together, waiting for the entrance of the king.

The silence was deafening. 

All the High House heads had come and taken their place, none of them saying a word.

Aadrika’s eyes moved over each of the High House Heads turn-by-turn, this was her first meeting with all of them. Never before had she come face-to-face with the other four High Houses – she wasn’t the only one.

A couple months ago, on the eve of the beginning of Chaitra, four out of the five High House heads had been found dead. High Houses Vishyah, Nishthavan, Nishath and Karmisht had all lost their Heads to assassins, both the Lord and Lady of these High Houses had died, except of High House Karmisht, which had lost only their Lord.

It had caused great turmoil, but the spaces were not left empty, Aadrika had stepped forward to take her parents place, she had acted swiftly, settling down into the role she had been trained for her entire life. While it might have caused great turmoil in the lower houses, it had not in the High Houses. The king had not even responded, and that’s how they all knew he was the one who had sent the assassins.

The result was three High Houses out of the five now had New Heads, and two old, out of which one was inexperienced.

Aadrika’s eyes went over the hexagonal table, built so that everyone could see everyone, her eyes rested on the first person on her right. Lord Ida of High House Nishthavan, he was a year or three older than her, and like her had stepped into the vacancy left by his parents. Aadrika watched him, his eyes were cunning and swift, his face calm, giving nothing away, much like hers. He had been well trained. The information her spies had given her said that he was strong and capable, but nothing else. Few months was too short of a time, to draw any conclusions.

Aadrika moved on to the next person, Lady Rukira of High House Karmisht, middle aged, swallow faced with faded rust brown hair, she looked like she had just come out of illness. She had somewhat reluctantly stepped into her husband’s role. Aadrika’s spies had more information about her. When her husband was alive, she had left the entire house to him, and personally was never politically active. Many people considered her simple, she had a cruelty streak.

Rukira’s eyes flickered and met Aadrika’s, who held her gaze for a moment and moved on to the next person, Lady Kamana of High House Nishath, she worried Aadrika, she was the only house head on whom her spies had no information. Aadrika had not found time to spy on her personally, but she was troubled. Kamana was roughly around twenty-five years, ever since she had taken over her parents’ place, she had been silent. The gates on the Nishath mansion had remained closed and only silent orders had come out. The woman was scheming, such behaviour was not natural. That was what Aadrika had thought, but looking at Kamana had thrown her perception of her into a toss. She was sitting on her chair, her head pushed back staring at the ceiling, the only one not looking at her opponents. It could only indicate two things, overconfidence or stupidity.

Aadrika looked at Kamana for a minute longer, weighing her thoughts, either attitude would lead Kamana to her downfall, she was last on her list of High House Heads. She moved on to the last and final High House Head. Distaste and hated rose in her mind, the last High House Head was none other than Lord Catura of High House Sathyarath, the only remaining High House Head form the last five. He was old, with white hair and a full-fledged beard. He sat back in his chair, comfortably watching all the others, silent, his deep-set eyes, pinched face and hook like nose a sharp contrast to his pudgy overweight body.

Catura was the most experienced of them all, but he was also the most shameless, known for his cunning and ability to suck up to the king. In Aadrika’s mind he was a coward who couldn’t stand on his own two feet, nevertheless, there was a reason he was this old, a reason he was not assassinated, whatever this reason was, it made him dangerous. He was first on her list; she was afraid that he was a mage.

Aadrika ’s line of thought was interrupted by a brilliant fanfare stuck up by an unseen band and the entrance of the king.

All the high house heads stood up and inclined their heads in respect to the king. They had not bowed to each other for they were of equal status, but the King was supreme, and everyone was below him. King Kedar of High House Sthir, the ruler with the longest reign in history, came and took his place at the head of the hexagonal table. He was the one who had got the High House Heads assassinated, he was also the one who had declared a state of war just a day after.

Aadrika watched, he was old, but not as old as Catura, and was not as young as Rukira. With thick eyebrows, a firm jaw and hooded eyes, he looked formidable, the glistening crown on his head only added to the effect. It was beautiful, the most valuable thing in the kingdom in terms of political power and monetary value. It was the very same crown that the First ruler of the Kingdom had worn.

King Kedar nodded sharply, and they all sat down. The servants brought out the appetizers. King Kedar looked around the table. “We have a lot of new faces, and most quite young.” His voice was strong and commanding. The voice of a king. “You must all be prepared for the war”

The food came, there was silence for a few minutes where everyone began eating. Out of the blue, the king continued, “the war will be conducted differently this time, I, will lead the army and all your trained men and women against the demons that are attacking from the Himalayas and all of you will stay in the castle and manage the kingdom. It is high time the demons are taught a lesson. After this war, they will never dare to attack again.”

Every house head looked up sharply, Kamana was frowning, her brows drawn together, everyone else’s faces were masks of stone. After the assassination of the High House heads, their social hierarchy had been disrupted, no one knew any longer which High House was stronger. The king knew this, he was the reason.

The room seemed to hold his breath; the king did not offer any explanation; a fevered light had lit up his eyes. They all watched the king.

The king watched them.

In the end they all bowed their heads, “as you wish my King.”

The meal continued.

                                                            *************************

Lord Ida of High House Nishthavan walked back to his room in the king’s palace, he felt strangely out of breath, this was not what he had expected, this was not what he had planned for. His face remained calm, his steps quickened, his spies had been wrong, the King was not as senile as they had made him out to be. He had to do something, fast. The king had put them all in a pretty spot, he had to get himself out of it quickly. All of their trained soldiers had been taken by the king for the war, all the High House Heads were now left with no security, were vulnerable to assassins, were cut off from the war and were left in one palace with each other and all the smartest low houses.

The king was up to something, something was not right. There was something he was missing. It felt uncannily like the king was paying a game with them all. An urgency gripped him as he locked himself in his room and sat to plan, he started by contacting all his spies, particularly the ones embedded in the castle and army. As Ida planned, plotted and schemed, he made a note to execute somebody the next day, quietly among the low houses who had come with him, he couldn’t afford a single one to step out of line. Not before he could deal with the other High Houses.

He had to move fast, to lay down his plot before the king could act.

                                                          ***************************

Aadrika paced in her room in the king’s palace, her lehnga swished and rustled as she moved back and forth and back and forth, lost deep in thought. She was worried, and felt out of breath. The King was definitely not as senile as her spies had claimed him to be. She needed to move fast, do something to get herself out of this mess. With the king gone and the High Houses confined to the palace, there would be chaos as each House relentlessly tries to bring all others down.

Aadrika suddenly stopped, her skirts gave one final swish before settling down, she watched the candles in her room burn and flicker. The kings move felt uncannily like what she had done to keep the low houses occupied. To confuse and occupy them to prevent them from seeing the bigger picture.

So, what was she not seeing?

Aadrika stood there breathing hard, and shook her head. She needed to calm down, and think through her next moves carefully. Letting panic control her would be first step in her undoing. Aadrika took a couple of deep breaths, and sat down to plan. She started by contacting her spies in the castle and army. She had to move fast and lay down her scheme before the King could make his next move.

                                                            ************************

The king moved faster than anyone could have expected.

The next morning when all the High House heads came down for breakfast, hounded by the low House Heads eagerly conversing among themselves, they were informed by the servants that the King had left early that morning with the entire army, and all of their soldiers for the war.

Each High House head was silent, only the House heads conversed among themselves, whispering urgently, smiling like a huddle of old people engaging in sinful gossip. They did not understand the true gravity of the situation.

Breakfast was a painful affair, all the High House Heads for the first time, felt like they were sinking. The king they had all thought was senile had thrown them in the deep, was playing a game with them that only he knew the rules of.

They were also stuck with the low houses.

After breakfast each of the High Houses ordered the low Houses away, so that they could ‘discuss’ with each other the ‘plan’ for the future while the king fought the war.

The High Houses sat at the hexagonal table, with a noticeable absence at its head, and looked at each other. Catura was just about to start when a short wiry bald man joined them, taking a place beside Kamana. They all looked at him, Kamana saw them looking, but did not say anything she rather sulkily, like a spoiled child, looked at them all with an air of defiance.

“This is a High House Head meeting only; low Houses are not allowed.” The voice was sharp and terse, the voice was Rukira’s.

Kamana looked at her, her hazel eyes burning with a kind of luminosity, “This is Lord Anala of High House Nishath, my mamu, he will stay Lady Rukira.”

There was a silence.

“It looks like the king has caged us all in here. We cannot leave.” Catura had a surprisingly melodious voice; it did not make up for the harsh truth he spoke.

“Sure, we can leave,” Rukira said, “we just have to walk out.”

“What Lord Catura means, Lady Rukira, is that we cannot leave because there is a magical force field keeping us all inside. The royal mages seem to have been busy.” Anala’s voice was even and calm, his face was impenetrable, giving nothing away. It was clear why he had not officially become the High House head; he had put Kamana as a distractor to make everyone underestimate High House Nishath while he called the shots from behind the scene.

It was a good plan, but the King had ripped it to shreds.

The King seemed to want to rip them all into shreds.

All the High House Heads looked at one another, none of them would believe Anala till they managed to confirm the news of the force field, but it was not surprising. Mages were rare and the main reason that the king remained the King was the Royal Mage Army. The largest collection, and only official collection, of mages in the country.

Mages were powerful, very powerful. The royal ones had sworn allegiance to the throne, but each High House spent a lot of money, searching for children or adults with magical power, and training them and swearing them into their Houses.

They were such closely guarded secrets and so vital, but they were unreliable, nobody could be trusted and least of all somebody so powerful. The High House heads always faced a paradox, they needed the mages but wanted to kill them.

Each High House Head looked at the other High House Heads, anyone could have a mage. If done right then they could be loyal, if you made sure that they were indebted, then you did have mage of your own who would do your bidding, they were dangerous. But they were not so worried about that, they were afraid that one, or more than one, of the High House heads would end up being a mage.

That was the most dangerous of it all, perhaps the most dangerous thing in the kingdom. You couldn’t buy a High House Head; you couldn’t turn them against their house. Each High House Head was taught to be self-reliant; they were their last line of defence, trained from birth to be ruthless and proficient in almost every armament. Each High House Head was a weapon in themselves, the one thing they were taught straight from birth was to survive, everywhere and anywhere. Whether it was a political court, the battlefield or the wild, to survive and to win.

After all that if you were a mage….                     


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Thu Jun 06, 2024 5:20 pm
RavenAkuma says...



Ooou, what great developments! I love the swap of perspectives in this chapter, it really felt like you were fleshing out the world and all the assets within this conflict. I also enjoyed the in-depth explanation of mages and where they stand. Beautiful descriptions too ~

I normally ask this on the first chapter but I guess it slipped my mind lol. I opted for a comment this time because it seems like you got two great reviewers helping you with this chapter already. If you would like, I can save my two cents for chapters with less reviews, or of course, I can come back and add to the list here with a full-length review. I don't mind either way, I just like posing the option for the writers' comfort ^^

Great work here! :D




khushi17bansal says...


Hey Raven!

First off, sorry for the late reply, (I've been really busy lately).

I can save my two cents for chapters with less reviews, or of course, I can come back and add to the list here with a full-length review. I don't mind either way, I just like posing the option for the writers' comfort


I leave this up to you. I am always open to reviews and would love to hear anything you have to say about any of my chapters. You're more than welcome to leave a full length review if you wish too! %uD83D%uDE01 But if you don't, that's perfectly fine too!



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Mon Jun 03, 2024 4:26 am
Spearmint wrote a review...



Hi khushi! It's mint, here with a review! :D First off, I love that the setting is Ancient India. It's (unfortunately) not a setting I've seen very often, but in this novel, it seems full of intrigue and opulence and politics, which makes for an interesting plot. ;D I also appreciate the glossary of terms at the beginning of each chapter! I kind of regret that the ignorance of Americans such as myself makes it necessary ToT but that's getting a little off-track. xD

Anyways, I'll get right into it!

The soft golden light glinted of the massive coloured glass chandelier that hung from the ceiling, the aroma of the scented candles wafted through the room.

Your setting descriptions are lovely. :D I can visualize being there in the Royal Palace.

Aadrika’s eyes moved over each of the High House Heads turn-by-turn, this was her first meeting with all of them, never before had she come face-to-face with the other four High Houses – she wasn’t the only one.

This is a grammar nitpick, but I noticed that you tend to overuse commas. In this case, a period should be used after "turn-by-turn" since "Aadrika’s eyes moved over each of the High House Heads turn-by-turn" and "this was her first meeting with all of them" are separate thoughts and thus should be separate sentences. Here's one way you could rewrite this:

"Aadrika’s eyes moved over each of the High House Heads turn-by-turn. This was her first meeting with all of them. Never before had she come face-to-face with the other four High Houses – she wasn’t the only one."
Not sure what you meant by "she wasn't the only one" either? Did you mean that she wasn't the only new High House Head? But anyways, this is a pretty minor thing. :]

The king had not even responded, and that’s how they all knew he was the one who had sent the assassins.

Ooooh I enjoyed following their thought process here. Definitely adds another dimension when it's not only the High Houses fighting between themselves, but also the king trying to keep their power in check.

He was first on her list; she was afraid that he was a mage.

:eyes: And here we get a hint at the magic promised in the blurb! Can't wait to learn more about mages and the magic in this world :>

King Kedar looked around the table, “we have a lot of new faces, and most quiet young.” His voice was strong and commanding, the voice of a king, “you must all be prepared for the war”

Another small thing, just because I can't find anything to critique about the descriptions and plot right now. XD Since the first section is an action, it should be a separate sentence. It would be a comma if it was something related to speech, like "King Kedar said," but it should be a period in most other cases. Also, the "we" should be capitalized. Here's how I'd edit the punctuation and capitalization:

King Kedar looked around the table. “We have a lot of new faces, and most quite young.” His voice was strong and commanding: the voice of a king. “You must all be prepared for the war.”

“the war will be conducted differently this time, I, will lead the army and all your trained men and women against the demons that are attacking from the Himalayas and all of you will stay in the castle and manage the kingdom.

Huhhh very interesting. I would think leaving the High Houses behind in the kingdom unsupervised isn't a wise move by the king since who knows what they could do while he's gone, but I suspect he has a reason behind this...

All of their trained soldiers had been taken by the king for the war, all the High House Heads were now left with no security, were vulnerable to assassins, were cut off from the war and were left in one palace with each other and all the smartest low houses.

Oooh I see. Still, as Lord Ida thinks, there still must be something missing. Even if all the trained soldiers are gone, surely the High House Heads have other bodyguards they can hire. And why would the king attempt to destabilize the kingdom like this? How will magic come into play? Color me very intrigued so far. :>

She had to move fast and lay down her scheme before the King could make his next move.

Haha the way Aadrika's thoughts and actions mirror Lord Ida's. I feel like they could be great allies or bitter enemies.

“What Lord Catura means, Lady Rukira, is that we cannot leave because there is a magical force field keeping us all inside. The royal mages seem to have been busy.”

Oh?? Interesting, very interesting. That certainly complicates things. :3

It was clear why he had not officially become the High House head; he had put Kamana as a distractor to make everyone underestimate High House Nishath while he called the shots from behind the scene.

Ah, quite clever. I really like how you put so much thought into each High House's strategies and thoughts! :]

After all that if you were a mage….

...then the power you would wield would be immense. 0-0 I wonder if Aadrika's a mage? >.>

Overall, I've enjoyed reading your novel so far! It's quite a fluid read, and I'm drawn in by the layers and layers of plots. Can't wait to read on! :D Hope you have a wonderful day/night!




khushi17bansal says...


Thank you so much for the review mint! And for drawing my attention to my grammatical errors. I'm well aware that I have a tendency to overuse commas, I'll certainly fix those errors. %uD83D%uDE04



Spearmint says...


My pleasure!! :D



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Tue May 14, 2024 3:51 am
KateHardy wrote a review...



Good Morning/Afternoon/Evening/Night(whichever one it is in your part of the world),

Hi! I'm here to leave a quick review!!

First Impression: Well this has been a very eventful second chapter here. I am loving the developments here seeing Aadrika actually experiencing some hardship and meeting the others in the game. Of course establishing what seems to be the main storyline was quite neat too.

Anyway let's get right to it,

The soft golden light glinted of the massive coloured glass chandelier that hung from the ceiling, the aroma of the scented candles wafted through the room. The Royal Palace was beautiful, made mostly of gorgeous carved wood, inlaid with ivory, gold and precious stones, adorned by coloured glass chandeliers and lit with a delicate golden firelight, it was a sight to behold. The biggest building in the kingdom, it was huge and could fit almost half of the kingdom if it was needed.

Most of the palace remained unused because there was a time in the past when all the High Houses lived in the place itself with the king, it was only a decade or two ago, when a ruler decided to send them away to live in their domains, to reduce the threat to his throne. The High Houses now only came when there was a serious issue, like war or the King's death. The reigns of six rulers have passed since the decision was made, King Kedar is the seventh ruler to continue the decision to keep the High Houses out.

Now a war was here, and for the first time in years, all the High House Heads were officially in one room together, waiting for the entrance of the king.

The silence was deafening.


Oooh well that's some lovly lor to get us started off there. I think that's the perfect position there to throw in all of that exposition to really position us nicely to understand the full magnitude of the scene unfolding before us. I also love the line about the silence. Its the exact opposite of what you expect and it hits even harder with what's going on here.

All the High House heads had come and taken their place, none of them saying a word.

Aadrika’s eyes moved over each of the High House Heads turn-by-turn, this was her first meeting with all of them, never before had she come face-to-face with the other four High Houses – she wasn’t the only one.

A couple months ago, on the eve of the beginning of Chaitra, four out of the five High House heads had been found dead. High Houses Vishyah, Nishthavan, Nishath and Karmisht had all lost their Heads to assassins, both the Lord and Lady of these High Houses had died, except of High House Karmisht, which had lost only their Lord.

It had caused great turmoil, but the spaces were not left empty, Aadrika had stepped forward to take her parents place, she had acted swiftly, settling down into the role she had been trained for her entire life. While it might have caused great turmoil in the lower houses, it had not in the High Houses. The king had not even responded, and that’s how they all knew he was the one who had sent the assassins.


Yeah well that definitely seem to be the sort of thing that would've been carried out on the order of the king. I love how simple and professional it is there. As they size each other up its only on the matter of what's to come. The deaths of parents just has to be brushed aside because in this moment there's nothing to do but try not to collapse and move on.

The result was three High Houses out of the five now had New Heads, and two old, out of which one was inexperienced.

Aadrika’s eyes went over the hexagonal table, built so that everyone could see everyone, her eyes rested on the first person on her right. Lord Ida of High House Nishthavan, he was a year or three older than her, and like her had stepped into the vacancy left by his parents. Aadrika watched him, his eyes were cunning and swift, his face calm, giving nothing away, much like hers. He had been well trained. The information her spies had given her said that he was strong and capable, but nothing else. Few months was too short of a time, to draw any conclusions.

Aadrika moved on to the next person, Lady Rukira of High House Karmisht, middle aged, swallow faced with faded rust brown hair, she looked like she had just come out of illness. She had somewhat reluctantly stepped into her husband’s role. Aadrika’s spies had more information about her. When her husband was alive, she had left the entire house to him, and personally was never politically active. Many people considered her simple, she had a cruelty streak.


Well that definitely is quite the varied setup between the two. Ida there looks to be very similar to Aadrika all things considered and it look very much like we have a bit of a wildcard there with Rukira there judging by all of that information presented at any rate.

Rukira’s eyes flickered and met Aadrika’s, who held her gaze for a moment and moved on to the next person, Lady Kamana of High House Nishath, she worried Aadrika, she was the only house head on whom her spies had no information. Aadrika had not found time to spy on her personally, but she was troubled. Kamana was roughly around twenty-five years, ever since she had taken over her parents’ place, she had been silent. The gates on the Nishath mansion had remained closed and only silent orders had come out. The woman was scheming, such behaviour was not natural. That was what Aadrika had thought, but looking at Kamana had thrown her perception of her into a toss. She was sitting on her chair, her head pushed back staring at the ceiling, the only one not looking at her opponents. It could only indicate two things, overconfidence or stupidity.

Aadrika looked at Kamana for a minute longer, weighing her thoughts, either attitude would lead Kamana to her downfall, she was last on her list of High House Heads. She moved on to the last and final High House Head. Distaste and hated rose in her mind, the last High House Head was none other than Lord Catura of High House Sathyarath, the only remaining High House Head form the last five. He was old, with white hair and a full-fledged beard. He sat back in his chair, comfortably watching all the others, silent, his deep-set eyes, pinched face and hook like nose a sharp contrast to his pudgy overweight body.


I have a feeling Kamana is definitely the most dangerous if she's managed to fool everyone into thinking that she might not be particularly competent. There's no way she' genuinely the easy one here. And it seem we also have that one person that everyone hates but has to put up with.

Catura was the most experienced of them all, but he was also the most shameless, known for his cunning and ability to suck up to the king. In Aadrika’s mind he was a coward who couldn’t stand on his own two feet, nevertheless, there was a reason he was this old, a reason he was not assassinated, whatever this reason was, it made him dangerous. He was first on her list; she was afraid that he was a mage.

Aadrika ’s line of thought was interrupted by a brilliant fanfare stuck up by an unseen band and the entrance of the king.

All the high house heads stood up and inclined their heads in respect to the king. They had not bowed to each other for they were of equal status, but the King was supreme, and everyone was below him. King Kedar of High House Sthir, the ruler with the longest reign in history, came and took his place at the head of the hexagonal table. He was the one who had got the High House Heads assassinated, he was also the one who had declared a state of war just a day after.


Well I have to say as horrible as Catura is him being the only one alive suggests he's the one who best knows how to survive in this sick and twisted system that they all happen to live in here. The king also is quite the figure from the looks of things here.

Aadrika watched, he was old, but not as old as Catura, and was not as young as Rukira. With thick eyebrows, a firm jaw and hooded eyes, he looked formidable, the glistening crown on his head only added to the effect. It was beautiful, the most valuable thing in the kingdom in terms of political power and monetary value. It was the very same crown that the First ruler of the Kingdom had worn.

King Kedar nodded sharply, and they all sat down. The servants brought out the appetizers. King Kedar looked around the table, “we have a lot of new faces, and most quiet young.” His voice was strong and commanding, the voice of a king, “you must all be prepared for the war”

The food came, there was silence for a few minutes where everyone began eating. Out of the blue, the king continued, “the war will be conducted differently this time, I, will lead the army and all your trained men and women against the demons that are attacking from the Himalayas and all of you will stay in the castle and manage the kingdom. It is high time the demons are taught a lesson. After this war, they will never dare to attack again.”


Well he certainly seems to have quite the plan there and a very detailed one at that for a war that was started just a day ago. He doesn't seem open to any sort of negotiation either which is certainly quite a curious matter here to consider because you do now have to wonder what his motivation was.

Every house head looked up sharply, Kamana was frowning, her brows drawn together, everyone else’s faces were masks of stone. After the assassination of the High House heads, their social hierarchy had been disrupted, no one knew any longer which High House was stronger. The king knew this, he was the reason.

The room seemed to hold his breath; the king did not offer any explanation; a fevered light had lit up his eyes. They all watched the king.

The king watched them.

In the end they all bowed their heads, “as you wish my King.”

The meal continued.


Well that seems to be quite the tense moment but it looks like everyone came to the conclusion that there was simply nothing smart to be done in the moment besides agreeing and moving on with the meal until they can think of something new to do.

Lord Ida of High House Nishthavan walked back to his room in the king’s palace, he felt strangely out of breath, this was not what he had expected, this was not what he had planned for. His face remained calm, his steps quickened, his spies had been wrong, the King was not as senile as they had made him out to be. He had to do something, fast. The king had put them all in a pretty spot, he had to get himself out of it quickly. All of their trained soldiers had been taken by the king for the war, all the High House Heads were now left with no security, were vulnerable to assassins, were cut off from the war and were left in one palace with each other and all the smartest low houses.

The king was up to something, something was not right. There was something he was missing. It felt uncannily like the king was paying a game with them all. An urgency gripped him as he locked himself in his room and sat to plan, he started by contacting all his spies, particularly the ones embedded in the castle and army. As Ida planned, plotted and schemed, he made a note to execute somebody the next day, quietly among the low houses who had come with him, he couldn’t afford a single one to step out of line. Not before he could deal with the other High Houses.

He had to move fast, to lay down his plot before the king could act.


Welll look like Ida there has some big plans there, on a scale that perhaps no one else seems to be too aware of. Said plans also seem to have experienced quite a bit of disruption because of the king although his opinion on the king there is certainly intriguing. This seems to be poised quite intriguingly here now. I wonder what the other heads are thinking.

Aadrika paced in her room in the king’s palace, her lehnga swished and rustled as she moved back and forth and back and forth, lost deep in thought. She was worried, and felt out of breath. The King was definitely not as senile as her spies had claimed him to be. She needed to move fast, do something to get herself out of this mess. With the king gone and the High Houses confined to the palace, there would be chaos as each House relentlessly tries to bring all others down.

Aadrika suddenly stopped, her skirts gave one final swish before settling down, she watched the candles in her room burn and flicker. The kings move felt uncannily like what she had done to keep the low houses occupied. To confuse and occupy them to prevent them from seeing the bigger picture.

So, what was she not seeing?

Aadrika stood there breathing hard, and shook her head. She needed to calm down, and think through her next moves carefully. Letting panic control her would be first step in her undoing. Aadrika took a couple of deep breaths, and sat down to plan. She started by contacting her spies in the castle and army. She had to move fast and lay down her scheme before the King could make his next move.


Well that just seems almost like a direct copy of what we witnessed going on with Ida there only she seems to have a slightly better idea of what the king might have wanted to do here. Well it seems for now everyone is just left very confused and scrambling to try and make sense of what's happening.

The king moved faster than anyone could have expected.

The next morning when all the High House heads came down for breakfast, hounded by the low House Heads eagerly conversing among themselves, they were informed by the servants that the King had left early that morning with the entire army, and all of their soldiers for the war.

Each High House head was silent, only the House heads conversed among themselves, whispering urgently, smiling like a huddle of old people engaging in sinful gossip. They did not understand the true gravity of the situation.

Breakfast was a painful affair, all the High House Heads for the first time, felt like they were sinking. The king they had all thought was senile had thrown them in the deep, was playing a game with them that only he knew the rules of.

They were also stuck with the low houses.

After breakfast each of the High Houses ordered the low Houses away, so that they could ‘discuss’ with each other the ‘plan’ for the future while the king fought the war.


Well looks like by breakfast neither of them have really managed to figure out anything at all and are kind of just lost for the moment trying to pretend to everyone else that they are the one with the plan when really it seems everyone is lost to some degree.

The High Houses sat at the hexagonal table, with a noticeable absence at its head, and looked at each other. Catura was just about to start when a short wiry bald man joined them, taking a place beside Kamana. They all looked at him, Kamana saw them looking, but did not say anything she rather sulkily, like a spoiled child, looked at them all with an air of defiance.

“This is a High House Head meeting only; low Houses are not allowed.” The voice was sharp and terse, the voice was Rukira’s.

Kamana looked at her, her hazel eyes burning with a kind of luminosity, “This is Lord Anala of High House Nishath, my mamu, he will stay Lady Rukira.”

There was a silence.

“It looks like the king has caged us all in here. We cannot leave.” Catura had a surprisingly melodious voice; it did not make up for the harsh truth he spoke.


Well it looks like Kamana has a little help there. Perhaps she's not going to be the secret terror after all and we do just have the one weak link. Or maybe this Lord Anala here is the real terror and Kamana is just a bit of a deception of some sort to act as a little bit of a puppet moment just for when the king is present. It would be quite smart.

“Sure, we can leave,” Rukira said, “we just have to walk out.”

“What Lord Catura means, Lady Rukira, is that we cannot leave because there is a magical force field keeping us all inside. The royal mages seem to have been busy.” Anala’s voice was even and calm, his face was impenetrable, giving nothing away. It was clear why he had not officially become the High House head; he had put Kamana as a distractor to make everyone underestimate High House Nishath while he called the shots from behind the scene.

It was a good plan, but the King had ripped it to shreds.

The King seemed to want to rip them all into shreds.

All the High House Heads looked at one another, none of them would believe Anala till they managed to confirm the news of the force field, but it was not surprising. Mages were rare and the main reason that the king remained the King was the Royal Mage Army. The largest collection, and only official collection, of mages in the country.


Ohh well here come those promised magical ones into the picture and it looks like they're coming in quite a powerful moment too. It seems the plot has most certainly thickened once again here and we have a new kind of threat for everyone to try and combat here.

Mages were powerful, very powerful. The royal ones had sworn allegiance to the throne, but each High House spent a lot of money, searching for children or adults with magical power, and training them and swearing them into their Houses.

They were such closely guarded secrets and so vital, but they were unreliable, nobody could be trusted and least of all somebody so powerful. The High House heads always faced a paradox, they needed the mages but wanted to kill them.

Each High House Head looked at the other High House Heads, anyone could have a mage. If done right then they could be loyal, if you made sure that they were indebted, then you did have mage of your own who would do your bidding, they were dangerous. But they were not so worried about that, they were afraid that one, or more than one, of the High House heads would end up being a mage.


Oooh okay it seems we're setting up just how powerful and dangerous mages are here and this is quite the description here. They certainly appear like they could be quite terrifying here that is most definitely quite a certainty.

That was the most dangerous of it all, perhaps the most dangerous thing in the kingdom. You couldn’t buy a High House Head; you couldn’t turn them against their house. Each High House Head was taught to be self-reliant; they were their last line of defence, trained from birth to be ruthless and proficient in almost every armament. Each High House Head was a weapon in themselves, the one thing they were taught straight from birth was to survive, everywhere and anywhere. Whether it was a political court, the battlefield or the wild, to survive and to win.

After all that if you were a mage….


Well that closes that up quite nicely I think. You've certainly built up quite a lot of hype here for how terrifying a mage could be especially as a house head so I have no doubt exactly where that is likely to be headed given the title of the story itself as well.

Aaaaand that's it for this one.

Overall: Overall this was a powerful second chapter really shaking things up good and creating a proper crisis for everyone. I loved our little introduction to all the major players as well. I can't wait to see where the idea of mages is going to take us next chapter.

As always remember to take what you think was helpful and forget the rest.

Stay Safe
Kate




khushi17bansal says...


Thank you for the review! It really helps.




No matter what happens I'll always know there's a quote of mine in the YWS quote generator.
— looseleaf